Economic Development

Viable Family Businesses With Nutritious Mushrooms in Guatemala

The CHOICE Humanitarian Guatemala team began working with the Cajcan community at the beginning of 2022 on projects focused on education, economic development, agriculture, health, and nutrition.

Overwhelming Obstacles for Families

Cajcan is a rural community made up of 95 families in the municipality of Chisec, department of Alta Verapaz. These families constantly face obstacles such as a lack of educational opportunities, an inadequate health system, insufficient economic resources, and an overwhelming shortage of clean water. This lack of basic resources and opportunities prevents families from breaking out of a generational cycle of poverty and improving their quality of life. Within the municipality of Chisec, income levels fall below the minimum amount needed to acquire their basic monthly necessities.

When considering all the dimensions of poverty—such as health, education, and living standards—this region is one of the most underserved in Guatemala. It has the highest levels of child malnutrition and "stunting" in the country. This means there is enough food to avoid starvation, but it lacks the nutrients needed for children to grow and develop both physically and mentally.

Oyster Mushrooms Bring a New Outlook

The CHOICE Guatemala team began working with the Cajcan community at the beginning of 2022 on projects focused on education, economic development, agriculture, health, and nutrition, all under a larger program generously funded by Pat and Florence King called Guatemala LIFE. The most recent focus has been on finding local economic opportunities so individuals can enter markets and generate a stable income.

With this goal in mind, the Guatemala team began working with two groups of women on oyster mushroom farming. CHOICE taught 47 women participants how to cultivate and harvest the mushrooms, which allows them to provide nutrient-dense food for their families. They are also able to sell the mushrooms in their own and nearby communities, which provides income opportunities for mothers who want to work close to home.


Oyster mushrooms are ideal for growing in Cajcan because they require little water. They also contain many important nutrients including vitamins B, C, D, and K, unsaturated fatty acids (omegas 3, 6, 7, 9), bioflavonoids, iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, sodium, and iodine. All these vitamins and nutrients are important for a balanced diet and can contribute to better overall health over time.

The training workshops carried out by the CHOICE team also included teaching the women different ways to prepare and eat the mushrooms. These new recipes have helped the women become excited to consume their own crops and grow surplus produce to sell through their own businesses.


As of 2022, a total of 348 families have received training in Oyster Mushroom production. They are motivated to continue cultivating mushrooms, feeding their families, and earning incomes. This is just a start to improving their lives and those of their families and communities.

Manuela Goes Above and Beyond

Manuela was one of many women who benefited from the oyster mushroom program. Before hearing about the project on the local radio, Manuela never knew about the opportunities that lie in oyster mushroom production. She became interested, took the initiative to seek out more information, and soon became a participant in the CHOICE training workshops. During the training, she learned that growing the mushrooms required little investment, were easy to cultivate with local materials, and most importantly, that they have extremely high nutritional value. This newfound knowledge enabled her to begin her own self-sustaining oyster mushroom business.


According to Manuela, “Many people from the community have approached me to buy my mushrooms. I plan to expand my business as sales grow.” She is currently searching for more local markets where she can continue to sell her mushrooms and grow her small business. Manuela is excited to continue to take advantage of all the new possibilities her business will bring into her life.

Similar posts


CHOICE Humanitarian can mobilize rural poverty solutions. Here's how you can help:


Random pic 2